54th Human Rights Council Reports

Independent Dialogue on the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries

Report on the Human Rights Council 54th Session

11 September 2023 – 13 October 2023

Meeting Date: 19 September 2023

Report from the Working Group:

The goal of the WG was to engage with stakeholders to strengthen collaboration potential at the international level and use international monitoring mechanisms to increase the visibility of mercenary groups across the globe:

  • Complacency at the international level regarding the continuation of conflicts that increase displacement patterns has only allowed for higher recruitment of mercenaries.

  • Most mercenaries are recruited using 'predatory' practices, but those selected often had backgrounds in military/combat situations.

  • 'Predatory' practices include:

    • Target men in zones with high rates of poverty,

    • Threatening of family members financial/health/life stability,

    • Enticement of economic relief, and

    • Targeting of vulnerable groups, recently victimized groups, marginalized groups, and prisoners with excessive sentences.

  • Enlistment of prisoners relies on the promise of pardons and compensation for both the recruit and their families.

  • There has been a development of systematic online recruitment styles.

  • Death of mercenary only produces further threat to the living family:

    • Sexual exploitation of women and girls is common,

    • Denial of compensation that was previously agreed upon, and

    • Many experience denial of basic rights (health, food security, education) following the loss of the recruited individual.

WG conducted two country visits to Greece and Armenia.


  1. The hiring of private security firms for handling migration has allowed for a perpetuation of predatory recruitment.

  2. The digitalization of migration has only granted access to higher technology which is being disproportionately used for mercenary recruitment.

  3. Recommended a Greek government monitoring mechanism to ensure that private security companies are held accountable.


  1. Domestic legislation does not have the ability to cover every level of the issue in its current iteration.

  2. The use of private security companies in controlling crowds poses a potential threat to human rights (right to peaceful assembly).

  3. Recommended that any national training incorporate gender sensitive aspects.

Country Responses:


  1. Greek legislation is within national and international regulations when it comes to the maritime sphere.

  2. Security of maritime personnel necessitates the use of private security firms.

  3. They have insured that labor rights are a primary focus of legislation and improvement has been measured.

  4. Admitted that with the increase of migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees is hard to sustain without the use of private security firms.

  5. A national/international obligation exists to address higher levels of smuggling and trafficking issues.

  6. Taken steps to improve/advance training programs of private security firms to consider all obligations.


  1. Reminded the council that they have entered into the Convention on Mercenaries.

  2. Began legal frameworks for the national level regarding the criminalization of mercenaries and recruiters – still in the beginning stages.

  3. Incorporated international legislative frameworks into the domestic level.

  4. Established a ban on the use of private security companies.

  5. Instigated reparation discussions for the Caucus Region.

Interactive Dialogue (ID):

  • Shared Concerns:

  1. Implementation of regulatory mechanisms is ad-hoc,

  2. Ignored the effects of financial organizations on the perpetuation of poverty levels leading to the use of mercenaries,

  3. Lacking transparency is an increasingly common issue in regulating mechanisms,

  4. Legal frameworks need to define the difference between private security companies and mercenaries, and

  5. Inaccessible investigatory frameworks only seek to perpetuate HR violations.

  • Specific Mentions:

  1. Condemnation of the Wagner Group for predation of resources, continuation of HR violations, and recruitment of mercenaries.

Our Analysis:

In order to ensure optimal peacebuilding operations within conflict affected areas it is important to recognize the threat posed by mercenary groups. These groups rely on predatory recruitment practices in order to grow their ranks. They do not operate in a legal manner and the resulting societal friction from their practices only contributes to the halting of sustainable development goal 16, which focuses on strengthening institutions for peace and justice. In the process of establishing safe and legal security mechanisms within countries it is vital that these countries maintain a capacity to monitor such mechanisms. These monitoring mechanisms should meet all set legal requirements - national and international. It was insinuated that lack of attention to the contribution of international financial institutions only benefits the conditions that support the practices of mercenary groups and should be addressed moving forward.

Author: Eileen Vis

Uploaded: October 19th 2023


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace